Posts Tagged ‘homeowner’

Why should I refinance?

Positive statements by the Federal Reserve Board regarding the pace of future hikes in interest rates and the release of weak employment data have served to bring rates down moving into the spring selling season. This unexpected move in rates give Americans a unique opportunity to save money through refinancing or making their new dream home more affordable. From mid-September of last year to early-April of this year, Freddie Mac has reported that average rates on a 30-year fixed loan have moved down slightly more than one-half of one percent. This amounts to a savings of more than $1,500 annually for a $300,000 mortgage and $45,000 over the life of the mortgage. Recently, Black Knight Financial Services found that, in light of recent interest rate decreases on home loans, 7.1 million Americans would currently benefit by refinancing. In addition, Zillow has reported that 5.2 million renters are planning to purchase a home in the next year. Sources: Freddie Mac, Zillow & HousingWire

Fifty-four percent of for-sale listings of existing homes are within reach for a median-income household in the U.S., according to a new analysis by realtor.com®. Their analysts used the national median income of $51,801 to determine how many of the site’s 1.6 million listings would be affordable to an average family, while also assuming a 20 percent down payment and 30-year fixed-rate mortgage. The monthly payment couldn’t exceed 28 percent of the family’s income. “So far this year we are hearing from home shoppers that finding a home that meets their needs or budget is the biggest impediment to buying,” says Jonathan Smoke, realtor.com®’s chief economist. “The good news from this data is that more than half of the listings nationwide are by definition affordable.” Realtor.com® analysts also found that existing homes tended to be much more affordable than new homes. In February, realtor.com® had more than 7,700 actively selling new-home communities listed, with an inventory of nearly 57,000 homes available for sale. Only 21 percent of those new homes, however, were deemed affordable. Source: realtor.com®

As Millennials begin to enter the homebuying market in larger numbers, homes will get a little smaller, laundry rooms will be essential, and home technology will become increasingly prevalent, said panelists during an International Builders’ Show press conference on home trends and Millennials’ home preferences. NAHB Assistant Vice President of Research Rose Quint predicted that the growing numbers of first-time homebuyers will drive down home size in 2015. Three million new jobs were created in 2014, 700,000 more than the previous year “and the most since 1999,” Quint said. At the same time, regulators have reduced downpayment requirements for first-time homebuyers from five percent to three percent and home prices have seen only moderate growth. “All these events lead me to believe that more people will come into the market, and as younger, first-time buyers, they will demand smaller, more affordable homes,” Quint said. “Builders will build whatever demand calls out for.” Of the Top 10 features mentioned by home builders, four have to do with energy efficiency: Low-E windows, Energy Star-rated appliances and windows and programmable thermostats. The top features: a master bedroom walk-in closet and a separate laundry room.

Source: National Mortgage Professional

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10 Ways to Lower Your Heating Costs

1. TAKE THE HEAT DOWN A NOTCH

Each degree you lower your thermostat for a period of at least eight hours can make your heating bill 1 percent cheaper, theEnergy Departmentestimates.

2. INSTALL A PROGRAMMABLE THERMOSTAT

Afraid you won’t remember to turn down the heat before you go to bed or leave the house? A programmable thermostat controls the temperature 24/7. Resist the temptation to mess with the settings when you get chilly, lest you eat into the savings. Grab a sweater instead

3. REDUCE DRAFTS

You can save as much as 30 percent on energy bills by covering up drafty windows and doors and sealing air leaks, according to the Department of Energy. Drafts can affect the thermostat reading, too, so these simple fixes may solve more than one winter energy challenge.

4. INSTALL STORM DOORS AND WINDOWS

This is a more permanent way to cut down on drafts that enter the house through inefficient doors and windows. The home improvement siteImproveNetalleges this project can increase your home’s energy efficiency by 45 percent and lays out the costs, pros, and cons.

5. CHANGE FURNACE FILTERS

Dirty furnace filters can restrict airflow, making the heating system work harder, which in turn can boost your bill. Filters should be cleaned or replaced monthly during the cold season. Keeping tabs on the furnace filter can also reduce medical bills. The more efficient the filter, the more allergens and debris it will catch and prevent from circulating in the air.

6. RUN FANS IN REVERSE

Did you know that changing the direction of a ceiling fan could shave as much as 10 percent off your heating bill? Good Housekeeping explains that flipping a switch on the fan turns the traditional counterclockwise rotation that produces a cool breeze to a clockwise rotation that pushes the warm air back into circulation

7. TURN DOWN THE WATER HEATER

The Simple Dollar points out that the standard setting for a hot water heater is 140 degrees Fahrenheit, and you can lower energy costs 6 to 10 percent by lowering the temperature to 120 degrees, which is still plenty warm. Other options, such as a tankless or solar water heater, can reduce the cost of heating water even more but require an initial investment of at least several hundred dollars.

8. KEEP MAINTENANCE IN MIND

Just like any other major appliance, afurnaceneeds regular tune-ups. Keeping it clean and properly adjusted helps it run efficiently and prolongs its lifespan. Check with your utility company or furnace manufacturer — many offer free annual inspections.

9. USE CAULK AND WEATHERSTRIPPING

Windows and doors aren’t the only spots where warm air leaks out of the house. Keep an eye out for places where two types of building materials meet — corners, chimneys, and around pipes and wires. These energy suckers can be plugged up with caulk and weatherstripping.

10. SEAL THE DUCTS

The Energy Department warns that about 20 percent of heated air can escape from the ductwork in a house. Properly sealed ductwork also better protects against dust and mold. Note that sealing ducts is not the same as cleaning them. In fact, many studies have shown that cleaning the ductwork is unnecessary unless there is an air quality issue.

Excerpt from MSNnews.com

Fall To Do List

As the weather cools down, our thoughts turn to visions of … leaf piles, broken gutters, and stopped-up chimneys. Or rather, how to deal with such household chores before the winter sets in. Here are 10 jobs that should top your priority list this fall.

1. Change batteries in smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. It’s a great idea to do this on the day Daylight Savings Time ends. Check the expiration on your fire extinguisher and review your escape plan with your family as well.

2. Inspect your fireplace. Have the chimney cleaned professionally, clear out any leftover ashes from last year from disposal chute if you have one, fix cracked glass doors.

3. Get the garage into shape. Gather up summer items such as lawn chairs, umbrellas, garden tools, and beach toys, pack them securely and store them neatly. Move snow shovels, snow sports equipment, and other winter tools to the front of your storage areas so they are easily accessible.

4. Ready the garden for winter. If you’re in colder climes, decide if you’ll be feeding the birds, and get your feeders cleaned and filled. Empty hoses and pack them away. If your winter weather is more temperate, you may want to prepare for winter planting of garlic, leeks, onions, lettuce, and potatoes.

5. Clear the deck. Clean, repair, cover and store your patio furniture and barbecue to prevent weather damage.

6. Get to the gutters. Clean and inspect them. Make sure your downspouts are clear and that you replace any broken extensions so that water is properly diverted away from your homes foundation.

7. Prepare the furnace. Check that it’s working properly before you really need it — you don’t want to be waiting for the repair service when the temperature’s dropped into the single digits. Better yet, get a professional cleaning and inspection.

8. Set up humidifiers. If you don’t have a central humidifier, pull out your portables and get ready to use them once you turn the heat on. Dry air not only harms your lungs and skin; it can also damage wood furniture, which can become brittle and crack.

9. Consider an exterior paint job. Fall is a great time of year to freshen your home’s exterior paint, with lower temperatures and low humidity.

10. Install a programmable thermostat. It doesn’t have to be as fancy [or expensive] as the Nest. Preset temperatures for different times of day and save yourself some money on heating bills — plus ensure you’ve got a cozy home to return to.

Flood Insurance Changes


Changes Take Place June 1, 2014

As of June 1, 2014, The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) will be implementing a number of changes in accordance with Section 100204 of

the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012.

1. CHANGE TO MAXIMUM COVERAGE LIMITS

The maximum limits of building coverage available for non-condominium residential buildings designed for use for five or more families (classified as Other Residential buildings by the NFIP) will be increased to match the limits of commercial and other non-residential properties insured under the Standard Flood Insurance Policy (SFIP) General Property Form.

 

THIS IS AN INCREASE OF AVAILABLE BUILDING COVERAGE FROM $250,000

PER BUILDING TO $500,000.

 

2. REVISED PRIMARY RESIDENCE DEFINITION

Effective June 1, 2014, the NFIP will begin defining primary residence to be a building that will be lived in by the insured or the insured’s spouse for more than 50 percent of the 365 days following the policy effective date.

 

3. DEDUCTIBLE CHANGES

FEMA is revising the minimum deductibles for the NFIP. The changes to the minimum deductibles are available only for new business and renewal policies that are effective on or after June 1, 2014.

 

4. MAXIMUM COVERAGE AVAILABILITY

The total and aggregate liability for a non-residential building or non-condominium building designed for 5 or more families is $500,000 per structure to be paid to the building owner. The law also reiterates that the maximum coverage available for a residential 1-4 family building or condominium unit is $250,000 per policy.

 

There are nine total changes that will become effective June 1, 2014

*Information provided by Franklin Street Insurance

ATTENTION ALL SELLERS:

Has your home been for sale longer than 90 days? No showings? Well, today The G Team is bringing you the Top 5 Turn-Off’s for home buyers!!

1. Overpricing for the market. Remember your Realtor is going to give you the best advice on your markets current conditions, not your cousin’s sister in law’s husband twice removed that used to be a Realtor is Idaho in the 80’s. We PROMISE to give you the FACTS on our local real estate market!

2. Smells. No one wants to hear that their home is “smelly” but stink happens. Whether it’s from pets, smoke, water damage, or simply the lack of cleanliness smells happen to the best of us. No buyer wants to buy a home that smells. Our advice: identify the smell and remove the issue.

3. Clutter. When a buyer enters a prospective home you (the seller) want them to envision the home as their new home. If the first thing the buyer notices upon entering your home is stacks of papers and figurines full to the edges on all tables then the buyer’s attention goes to try to avoid knocking anything over instead of visually touring the home. Which brings us to furniture, too much furniture confuses the eye and makes it difficult for buyers to see the true sizes of a room.

4.Deferred maintenance. Just like people wear out, houses do too. As a homeowner, it is your responsibility to maintain your home. Buyers want a well maintained home, not a money pit. We’ve all heard the horror stories!

5. Dated decor. Buyers are looking at your home instead of buying new construction because of two things: cost and location. They may love your neighborhood but that doesn’t mean they’re willing to sacrifice modern amenities. Examples of items that can ‘date’ your home: popcorn ceilings, wallpaper, pepto bismol pink bathrooms, colors from 70’s & 80’s (i.e. harvest gold, avocado, soft blues and mauves) are just a few examples.

Call your local real estate experts, The G Team for all of your real estate needs! We can evaluate your home before putting it on the market, help you with buying your first home or your dream home or even manage property for you! Call us today at 615-466-3030.